Anxiety has no age,contrary to popular belief. It happens to every child in one form or another: anxiety.Navigating anxiety is an essential life skill that will serve them in the years to come. What parents need to know is how to calm an anxious child when it happens.In the heat of the moment, these simple phrases to help your children identify, accept, and work through their anxious moments:
1. "I love you. You're safe."
Being told that you will be kept safe by the person you love the most is a powerful affirmation.
Remember, anxiety makes your children feel as if their minds and bodies are in danger. Repeating that they are safe can soothe the nervous system.
2. "I will say something and I want you to say it exactly as I do: "I can do this.'"
Do this 10 times at variable volume. Marathon runners use this trick all of the time to get past "the wall."
3. "Why do you think that is?"
This is especially helpful for older kids who can better articulate the "Why" in what they're feeling.
4. "We are an unstoppable team."
Separation is a powerful anxiety trigger for young children. Reassure them that you will work together, even if they can’t see you.
5. "This feeling will pass. Let’s get comfortable until it does."
The act of getting comfortable calms the mind as well as the body. Weightier blankets have even been shown to reduce anxiety by increasing mild physical stimuli.
6. "Let’s learn more about it."
Let your children explore their fears by asking as many questions as they need. After all, knowledge is power.
7. "Let’s count."
This distraction technique requires no advance preparation.
Counting the number of people wearing boots, the number of watches, the number of kids, or the number of hats in the room requires observation and thought, both of which detract from the anxiety your child is feeling.
8. "I need you to tell me when 2 minutes have gone by."
Time is a powerful tool when children are anxious. By watching a clock or a watch for movement, a child has a focus point other than what is happening.
9. "Close your eyes. Picture this…"
Visualization is a powerful technique used to ease pain and anxiety. Guide your child through imagining a safe, warm, happy place where they feel comfortable. If they are listening intently, the physical symptoms of anxiety will dissipate.
10. "I get scared/nervous/anxious sometimes too. It’s no fun."
Empathy wins in many, many situations. It may even strike up a conversation with your older child about how you overcame anxiety.